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Man Reveals How He Survived After Plunging Into 'Shark Point' 17 Kilometres From Land

Charisa Bossinakis

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Man Reveals How He Survived After Plunging Into 'Shark Point' 17 Kilometres From Land

John Deer reveals how he survived swimming in shark-infested waters 17km (10.5 miles) away from the shore in Panama.

The Australian sailor sat down with 60 Minutes to recount the horrifying moment when he was left stranded in the Caribbean waters while embarking on a solo trip around the world in 2019.

Despite not having much sailing experience, Deer purchased a second-hand yacht called Julieta to 'throw himself in the deep end'.


The 41-year-old travelled around the Greek islands before he headed across to Italy, Albania and Spain.

He headed down to the west coast of Africa, then intended to reach Panama by crossing the Atlantic Ocean. 

However, while heading towards Central America, Deer lost his footing on his boat and fell into a section of the ocean that locals called ‘shark point’ due to the number of deadly predators lurking beneath.

His boat was left on autopilot as he watched it as it sailed away.


Deer was now 17km (10.5 miles) from the shore with no life jacket.

He told 60 Minutes: “I kinda treaded water for a moment and I'm thinking, 'Right, I'm gonna die'. Then I thought ‘am I just going to float around and wait for that lung full of water?’ I may as well start swimming".

While treading water, Deer noticed something nibbling at his feet.

He said: “Something started to bite. There was pure terror - panic. I thought it was a shark straight away.”


He began ferociously punching and kicking the water to scare whatever it was attacking him.

Suddenly the biting stopped, but Deer knew that he still had to conserve his energy if he was going to make it back to shore, so he went started swimming breaststroke before switching to backstroke.

After 10 hours, the sailor finally made it back to shore. 


He began waving down passing boats before one finally stopped, and locals picked him up while he burst into tears.

He said: “They were totally confused. [Thinking] who is this foreigner on the rocks. I was topless, barefoot. Just trying to get a ride back.”

They brought Deer to Panama City, where he spent more than a week trying to get an emergency passport to return to Australia after losing everything at sea.

Funnily enough, after the accident, Deer learned that despite its name, 'shark point' has no sharks.


While reflecting on why he survived, Deer said: “I don't believe in the religious god... But I prayed to the universe. I put some energy out there. But even then I think, afterwards, it was luck.”

However, if you think that would be enough to deter the Deer from sailing across the world, think again.

Deer is already wanting to get back out there and explore, as he previously told Daily Mail: "As an Aussie, you have to love a story where you beat the odds and that is what I did!"

Featured Image Credit: cleverdeer / Instagram.

Topics: News, Australia, Travel

Charisa Bossinakis
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